REVIEW: The Beach House, Roker seafront, Sunderland

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A BISTRO opened by Sunderland’s beloved football club overlooking one of our best assets has got to be a ‘shore’ thing?

A bistro opened by Sunderland’s beloved football club overlooking one of our best assets has got to be a ‘shore’ thing?

Less than a week after it opened its doors, I’ve visited Beach House twice.

As a regular bemoaner of Roker and Seaburn’s lack of daytime cafes and bistros, I was keen to see if the venue could drive new trade to the seafront.

I’m a fan of the daytime eateries we have already, but you only have to look at coastal cousin Seaham to see that having a broad choice of cafes and coffee shops can create healthy competition.

Part of the new Pier Point Development, which will also soon house a Downey’s fish and chip restaurant, this new kid on the block is beautifully decked out.

It more than nods to its location just a stone’s throw from the beach, it positively celebrates it.

Sea-faring trinkets adorn the walls which also feature yesteryear pictures of Roker and SAFC – whose catering arm, 1879 Events has launched this venture.

Feature wallpaper is peppered with beach hut motifs, while plump cushions are decorated with lighthouses and nautical stripes. Decor-wise, The Beach House hits just the right note and it’s a pleasure to sit within this ode to the coast.

My first visit, however, was a mixed bag. In The Beach House’s defence, I’d visited late afternoon on the first day of the summer holidays.

The sun was cracking the pavements and the beach was awash with families. A lunchtime rush meant by the time we arrived half the menu was not available – it just goes to show how much of a demand there is for a beachfront diner.

Every time we tried to order food, we were told they didn’t have it. I got the feeling we were sitting in Old Mother Hubbard’s here.

I’d ordered a cooling glass of chilled wine – as an added bonus the venue has an alcohol licence. It slipped down a treat on this sun-drenched lazy day off work. My friend, however, couldn’t stomach her Pepsi which she said tasted flat.

The waitress was perfectly accommodating and brought another, only for us to discover the cause of the displeasing taste: the bottle was five months out of date.

Staff apologised profusely and didn’t charge for the drink. Hopefully this was a mere teething problem with a supplier.

Despite the glitches, I wasn’t put off from returning and my visit the next day proved a triumph.

I got the chance to try the dishes I’d been hungrily eyeing up on the menu the day before. The food is unfussy here, as befitting its informal beach location.

Think seaside classics such as hot dogs, chips and burgers rubbing shoulders with locally-sourced fish dishes, such as mussels and prawns pot (£10.95) and a summer salad bar where you can pick up a quiche for £4.

Mini munchers can tuck into the colloquial “food for the bairns” section – there’s no mistaking this is a Sunderland eatery – which features hot dogs and burgers for £2.95.

My pick of the bunch was the seafood plank. It’s one of the more pricier dishes at £8.95 per person, but features a seafood smorgasbord of North Shields crab, poached salmon, fish goujons and a mini bucket of prawns.

It all tasted fresh as can be and was accompanied by lemon, mayonnaise and tartare sauce with bread.

Sweet tooths can be sated by cakes and sundaes. For those who want to eat their ice creams al fresco, there’s a neighbouring take away kiosk featuring two familiar faces.

Samson and Delilah loom large in the decor, which will no doubt delight young 
ones.

Despite the new venture still finding its feet, it seems all the ingredients are there for it to have buckets of diners and spades of success.